I've been wrestling with Dutch localized versions of Windows Vista for a little while now. My conclusion so far: I don't consider it to be a finished product. (Yes, I know you've heard it before) Furthermore I think it's a disgrace Microsoft markets the Dutch version of Microsoft Windows Vista as fully featured, while it's not.
It's not all bad…
This post includes issues I've encountered while using the Dutch localized version of Windows Vista Ultimate, the Dutch localized version of Windows Vista Ultimate with the English language pack and an US English version of Windows Vista Ultimate with the Dutch Language Pack. This post in no way implies localization in Windows Vista 'sucks'. Stuff like the localized directory names and paths is working wonderful and I consider localization in Windows Vista to be better than in previous Windows versions. If only the localization team put a little more effort in the product…
I'm experiencing the following issues with these Windows Vista builtin features:
Spelling checking isn't localized in the Dutch version of Windows Mail. Available languages are German, English, French and Spanish. Jetze Mellema also concluded (Dutch link) this.
An extraordinarily strange situation arises for home users. The Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 suite lacks the Microsoft Outlook product. This means potential customers targeted by the Windows Vista Home Premium (or Home Basic) and Office Home and Student 2007 combination are forced into a situation with limited e-mail functionality without any warning.
I guess Live Mail is Microsoft's marketing answer to this situation… along with recommending home users to buy more expensive suites of Microsoft Office 2007 which include Outlook.
Windows Speech Recognition
Speech Recognition isn't available in the Dutch language. Promoted to be a functional way of making your computer voice controlled (literally sometimes) it isn't working in the Dutch version of Windows Vista. You can start up the Speech recognition though, but you receive a message stating Speech recognition isn't supported in your language. It won't work.
You could expect Windows Vista Ultimate edition has some ways around this problem with the language packs, but sadly enough this isn't the case. Even if you'd install a language pack of a language that supports Windows Speech Recognition (US English, UK English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese) on your Dutch Windows Vista Ultimate installation it won't work. Erwyn van der Meer was one of the first to recognize this issue in a footnote of one of his blogposts. (Dutch link)
Windows Vista Ultimate Extras
One of the issues associated with running localized Microsoft software is waiting longer for Service Packs. Typically localized Service Packs are released two weeks after US English Service Packs. I think it's reasonable to expect Dutch localized versions of Windows Vista Ultimate Extras to be released with two weeks delay. Unfortunately Dutch Windows Vista Ultimate owners are still waiting for Windows DreamScene. This Windows Vista Ultimate Extra was released almost a month ago to US English Windows Vista Ultimate owners.
Installing the English language pack seems to be a workaround for this issue, but then the Windows Vista Ultimate Extras aren't localized themselves.
I understand a multi-billion enterprise settled in the US isn't very interested in localization of their products. I even understand an IT company would focus on this language, since English is the language mostly used in IT. The Dutch language is only used by 22 million persons and ranked roughly 40th based on these numbers.
In my opinion Microsoft shows a great deal of disrespect by not properly implementing localization of Windows Vista. I'm sure the Dutch version of Windows Vista isn't the only affected localized version affected.
If you're in the process of choosing your Windows client Operating System language, please review the above issues.
According to the Microsoft Windows Vista product lifecycle April 10th 2012 is the date which marks the end of the Mainstream support period and the beginning of the Extended support period. (for some versions at least).
I'd like to see Microsoft correcting the above issues as soon as possible, so 22 million people like me can enjoy their Dutch version of Windows Vista for the full period of five years. Meanwhile a little notice stating some features don't work in the Dutch version before people accept the UELA would be nice.
Remember: Neelie Kroes is Dutch as well. 😉
Guide to Windows Vista Multilingual User Interface
Windows Vista Multilingual User Interface Step-by-Step Guide
The Windows Speech Recognition language must be the same as the operating system language
Comparison of the 2007 Microsoft Office system suites
Wikipedia on languages by number of native speakers
WindowsUltimate.com on Windows DreamScene